2018 AASCU Annual Meeting: Speakers

Donna Brazile

Donna Brazile Veteran Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile is an adjunct professor, author, syndicated columnist, television political commentator, Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation at the Democratic National Committee, and former interim National Chair of the Democratic National Committee as well as the former chair of the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute. 

Ms. Brazile first got involved in politics at the age of nine when she worked to elect a City Council candidate who had promised to build a playground in her neighborhood; the candidate won, the swing set was installed, and a lifelong passion for political progress was ignited. Ms. Brazile worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000, when she became the first African-American to manage a presidential campaign.

Author of the best-selling memoir Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics, Ms. Brazile is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, a syndicated newspaper columnist for Universal Uclick, a columnist for Ms. Magazine, and O, The Oprah Magazine, an on-air contributor to CNN, and ABC, where she regularly appears on This Week. In addition to her three cameo appearances on CBS’s The Good Wife, she has made two cameo appearances on Netflix’s House of Cards. Ask her and she’ll tell you that acting, after all, is the key to success in politics. 

In September 2014, Ms. Brazile received the WNBA’s Inspiration Award. In August 2009, O, The Oprah Magazine chose Ms. Brazile as one of its 20 “remarkable visionaries” for the magazine’s first-ever O Power List. In addition, she was named among the 100 Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian magazine, Top 50 Women in America by Essence magazine, and received the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s highest award for political achievement. 

Ms. Brazile remains active in her hometown of New Orleans, where she was recently appointed to serve on the executive committee of the Tricentennial Commission, responsible for the celebration of the city’s founding in 2018. She also serves on several corporate boards and boards of non-profit institutions. Ms. Brazile is the proud recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from Louisiana State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Grambling State University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Northeastern Illinois University, Thomas Jefferson School of Nursing, and Xavier University of Louisiana. 

Ms. Brazile is founder and managing director of Brazile & Associates LLC, a general consulting, grassroots advocacy, and training firm based in Washington, DC.

Ed Gillespie

Ed GillespieEd Gillespie is a Managing Director and Chairman of SVC Public Affairs.

Ed has been a national and state party chairman, top White House and Congressional aide, Republican nominee for both the U.S. Senate and Governor in his home state of Virginia, and founder of three successful public affairs firms.

As Republican National Committee chairman in the 2004 election cycle, Ed became the first GOP chairman to preside over his party’s winning the White House, House and Senate in 80 years.  In 1984, he was a principal drafter of the Contract with America, which led to Republicans winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.

Ed served as Counselor to the President for George W. Bush at the end of his second term, a challenging time that included the financial markets collapse and the surge of troops in Iraq as well as a highly lauded transition of presidential power between parties.

Ed has been successful in the private sector, providing strategic communications advice to CEOs and major corporations.  He previously founded several successful public affairs businesses, including the bipartisan Quinn Gillespie & Associates, which from 2000-2014 was one of Washington’s top public affairs firms.  At Quinn Gillespie, he advised companies on many high-stakes situations, including crises and transactions.

He serves on the boards of America’s Kids Belong, a charitable organization that promotes adoption and foster care, and the Republican State Leadership Committee, a political organization that helps to elect state legislative and statewide candidates across the country.

Ana Navarro

Ana NavarroAna Navarro is an American political strategist and commentator.

She was born in Nicaragua. She immigrated to the United States in 1980 at 8 years of age.

She is a Republican strategist with vast expertise on Latin American, Florida and Hispanic issues.

She served in Gov. Jeb Bush's Transition Team and Administration. In 2001, she served as Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

In the private sector, she provides strategic political and communications advise to private and public clients. 

She was the National Hispanic Co-Chair for John McCain’s 2008 Presidential Campaign. She has advised numerous Federal and State campaigns in Florida and nationally. In 2012, she served as National Hispanic Co-Chair for Gov. Jon Huntsman’s Presidential Cam-paign. In 2013, she was a Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics.

She is one of the leading Hispanic Republican political voices in the United States. She is a political commentator on CNN, ABC, and Telemundo. She frequently comments on politi-cal issues and current affairs in national and international print media. She is known for her honest and blunt commentary and speaking truth to power, often with (attempts at) humor.

She lives in Miami, FL with a high-maintenance Hispanic man. She has no children or pets, and her plants tend to shrivel and die. She has no hobbies or activities, requiring significant attention span or physical exertion.

Soledad O’Brien

Soledad O'BrienSoledad O’Brien is an award-winning journalist, speaker, author and philanthropist. She anchors and produces the Hearst Television political magazine program “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien,” and reports regularly for HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” and PBS NewsHour. She was also anchor of two CNN morning news programs.

O’Brien has established herself as one of the most recognized names in broadcasting by telling the stories behind the most important issues, people and events of the day. A champion of diversity, she gives voice to the underserved and disenfranchised through her Emmy-winning reporting and acclaimed documentary series, “Black in America” and “Latino in America.”

With eloquence and a measured ability to make often-divisive issues such as race relations, social inequality and mass incarceration accessible to all, she moves audiences to delve deeper into the headlines that shape our lives, outlooks and daily interactions. O’Brien draws from her life and career to stimulate thoughtful conversation on the roles we each play within our communities and organizations. 

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